Reeling in a World Record

Jenny Scarborough
Frankie Powers and his potential world record snowy grouper
Frankie Powers and his potential world record snowy grouper

A 73 pound snowy grouper pulled in aboard the Drum Stick could set new records.

Frankie Powers put a big chunk of bait on his hook and dropped it into about 300 feet of blue Atlantic water.  Snowy groupers are difficult to catch because they live and feed from rocky ledges at the edge of the abyss, said mate Nick Piland.  Knowing where to find them is crucial, as is keeping them from getting hung up on the rocks after taking the bait. 

Then expect a stubborn fight.  Grouper have the bulk and temperament of an ox, noted one observer.

After 20 minutes, the handle on Powers' reel broke, and the anglers improvised with a screwdriver.  Powers continued to crank, and landed the monster fish about 10 minutes later.  It was easily the biggest snowy he'd ever seen, said Piland.

The grouper weighed in at 73 pounds at the Anchorage Marina, and was taken to Pirate's Cove Marina in Manteo the next day, tipping the scales at 74 pounds.  Shortly after that, it was dinner for the Powers family.  The current International Game Fish Association world record for snowy grouper is 70 pounds.

The IGFA is "looking at all the conclusive evidence to support a world record," said Captain Marty Baumgaertl.  This includes photos, verified reports from weighing stations, and an examination of the tackle used. 

Drum Stick owner Farris O'Neal said he is 90% confident the record will be awarded. 

Baumgaertl and Piland were competing in a small private tournament organized by Dare to Hyde.  It was a fun tournament among guys who know each other, said Baumgaertl.  Captain Ernest Doshier of the Gecko and Russel Williams of Williams' Guide Service also competed from Ocracoke, joining two boats out of Oregon Inlet.

On October 6, the first day of the tournament, the Drum Stick caught a pile of dolphin (or mahi mahi, if you prefer) and a sailfish.  Elusive snowy groupers and blue marlins scored the highest, and the fishermen knew catching either of those would lock up their victory. 

Baumgaertl plugged in their top secret GPS coordinates--since erased due to piscatological espionage--and Piland orchestrated the right gear to hook the fish that won them the tournament. 

Snowy groupers do not have teeth.  They feed on silver snappers, red grunts and smaller fish by sucking them into their huge mouths, crushing them, then swallowing them whole.  "It's like a vacuum when they open their mouth," said Piland.

Doshier admitted it was an impressive, and impressively ugly, fish.  Williams declined to comment; he'd rather talk about skiing.

If the snowy grouper is certified by the IGFA, the Drum Stick will join the Gecko and the Rascal, captained by Norman Miller, as an Ocracoke boat that catches world record sized fish.  The Gecko has two world records, both for different tackle classes of red drum; and the Rascal has many, also for red drum. 


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